Monday, December 10, 2007

Sea Floor

What is sea floor spreading?
The process by which new sea floor is formed as it moves away from spreading centers in mid-ocean ridges.

What are some of the major land forms that are created from plate movement?
Mountains, volcanoes, trenches, and the 7 continents were all formed from plate movement.

How were the Mariana Islands formed?
The Marianas were formed by volcanoes. Nowadays they are most dormant, but occasionally one will erupt, spreading sulfur up into the atmosphere and over the other islands.

What evidence exists today that the plates are still moving and that the islands are ancient volcanoes?
As I mentioned earlier, there are still active volcanoes in Micronesia, and which the continous earthquakes, we know that the plates are still in motion.

What is an atoll?
A product of a reef; often islands or sand cays surrounding a central lagoon.

Why are atolls mainly found on the Pacific?
Atolls grow on coral reefs, which are found mainly in the Pacific Ocean because of the warm climate.

Fishes of the CNMI

biology and adaptation

The saltwater crocodile has adapted to live in fresh water, salt water, or both (brackish or mixed water). Kidneys are crucial to help this remarkable feat, but they aren't the only way the croc accomplishes this; saltwater crocodile tongues have special glands that excrete salt. Another adaptation of saltwater crocodiles is that their eyes and nose are high on its head so that it can remain mostly underwater, hiding from its prey. Their broad tails and specially webbed feet help them swim and maneuver quickly. Like all crocodiles, saltwater crocs eat a variety of meat, anything they can get their hands on. Their powerful jaws are built to close quickly and tightly. With amazing jaw muscles, crocodiles hang on to their prey and perform the "death roll" to kill their victims. Like Steve Irwin always said, "Crikey!"

Alligator, large aquatic reptile of the genus Alligator,

in the same order as the crocodile. There are two

species–a large type found in the United States

and a small type found in China. Alligators differ

from crocodiles in several ways. They have broader,

blunter snouts, which give their heads a triangular

appearance; also, the lower fourth tooth does not

protrude when the mouth is closed, as it does in

the crocodile.

The American alligator, Alligator mississipiensis, is

found in swamps and sluggish streams from North

Carolina to Florida and along the Gulf Coast. When

young, it is dark brown or black with yellow transverse bands. The bands fade as the animal grows, and the adult is black. Males commonly reach a length of 9 ft (2.7 m) and a weight of 250 lbs (110 kg); females are smaller. Males 18 ft (5.4 m) long were once fairly common, but intensive hunting for alligator leather eliminated larger individuals (a specimen over 10 ft/3 m long is now unusual) and threatened the species as a whole. The wild American alligator is now protected by law, but it is also raised on farms for commercial uses.

Alligators spend the day floating just below the surface of the water or resting on the bank, lying in holes in hot weather. They hunt by night, in the water and on the bank. Young alligators feed on water insects, crustaceans, frogs, and fish; as they grow they catch proportionally larger animals. Large alligators may occasionally capture deer and cows as they come to drink; they do not commonly attack humans. Alligators hibernate from October to March. In summer the female builds a nest of rotting vegetation on the bank and deposits in it 20 to 70 eggs, which she guards for 9 to 10 weeks until they hatch.

The Chinese alligator, A. sinensis, which grows to about 6 ft (1.8 m) long, is found in the Chang (Yangtze) River valley near Shanghai. This species is nearly extinct. Caimans are similar, but distinct members of the Alligatoridae family found in Central and South America. There are several species, classified in three genera. The largest grow up to 15 ft (4.8 m) long. Unlike alligators, caimans have bony overlapping scales on their bellies. Baby caimans are often sold in the United States as baby alligators.

Alligators and caimans are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Crocodilia, family Alligatoridae.